The David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region provided 24 nonprofits with a much-needed financial boost with grant awards totaling more than $2.5 million.
The fund made two $500,000 grants:
- To support the Door County Historical Society’s project to restore the Eagle’s Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula Park to the period of 1883 to 1918.
- To support Brown County Parks and Recreation’s HJ DeBaker Eagles Nest Park Development. Brown County purchased 4.54 acres of land along the east shore of Green Bay to develop the site into a public harbor of refuge, boat landing and public park for Bay access. Formerly the site of Eagle’s Nest Supper Club, the location is now known as HJ DeBaker Eagles Nest Park and Boat Launch.
Who were the Nelsons?
David and Rita, who lived in De Pere, died in 2017. She was a teacher, and he was the chief financial officer for the Post-Crescent in Appleton and the Green Bay Press-Gazette He later invested in radio stations and other businesses.
The Nelsons left more than $100 million from their estate to create the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation. The gift was by far the largest ever received by the Community Foundation and one of the largest charitable gifts in the state’s history.
In addition to this year’s two $500,000 gifts, support was also awarded to the following projects:
On Broadway, Inc., $200,000 for Leicht Park redesign and improvements.
National Railroad Museum, $180,000 for the restoration of its dome diner car.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, $150,000 for its Amplify Nursing program which will allow the university to increase in the enrollment capacity of the nursing program.
Door County Maritime Museum, $150,000 for an off-site archives building.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Bay and Lakes Region, $147,000 to support the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay’s integration with the Boys & Girls Club of Door County and enhanced partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Shawano.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Foundation, $100,000 to support the Educational Achievement Partnership Program, which will launch the program in the Fox Valley, creating the region’s only hospital-based school support service program.
Wello, $90,000 towards its Sustaining Investment Campaign.
Friends of Hearthstone, $76,000 for window restoration.
Friends of Grignon Mansion, $60,000 to support the mansion’s executive director role ($50,000) and long-range planning ($10,000.)
Thompson Center on Lourdes, $50,000 to support pre-planning for a campaign readiness project.
Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, $50,000 to support the Coneflower Pavilion Project.
Fox Valley Advanced Care Partnership, $50,000 towards a matching grant challenge to the community.
Fox Valley Literacy, $50,000 for capital improvement needs.
91.1 The Avenue (Music That Matters), $40,000 for a new website and donor management system.
The Einstein Project, $30,000 for its mobile design lab build out.
Friends of WPT, $25,000 for the Wisconsin Lighthouses program.
Chippewa County Historical Society, $20,000 to support the center’s roof safety modifications.
Heritage Hill Corp., $16,000 for its migrant agricultural home interpretation
Tri-County Community Dental Clinic, $15,000 to support a dental equipment replacement and upgrade project.
Hands on Deck, $10,000 to assist in the purchase of a laser cutter.
Dickinson Elementary School in De Pere, $7,000 to support the replacement of playground equipment.
Brain Center of Green Bay, $5,000 for capacity building needs.
An additional $200,000 in grants were also made to other nonprofits.
Since the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund was created five years ago, it has provided nearly $25 million in grants.
The David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation is a permanent, donor-advised endowment that generates millions of dollars in grants annually to charitable organizations reflecting the philanthropic interests of the late David and Rita Nelson and their family, primarily in the Fox Cities, Green Bay and Door County areas. These interests include parks, recreation and waterways; education; health care; community services and community centers; historic preservation and history — including lighthouses, museums and historical societies; and community catalyst opportunities.